The Common Man Speaks


Lalbaug Parel (City Of Gold) Movie Review

Almost There!

Ratings - * * ½

Today’s generation is absolutely unaware about the era of mill workers in the city of Mumbai during the 1980s. Director Mahesh Manjrekar’s Lalbaug Parel (City Of Gold in Hindi) brings to light the history of these workers and the pain they went through. For this, he surely deserves praise. However, the nature of presentation is too much to handle.

The film follows the story of the workers’ struggle against the insensitive mill owners (Sameer Dharmadhikari mostly). Anna (Shashank Shende) hasn’t got his due amount from the mill owners since six months. He lives in abject poverty with his wife (Seema Biswas) and four children, Baba (Ankush Chaudhary), a struggling writer, Mohan (Vinit Kumar), a bank employee, Naru (Karan Patel), a local thug and Manju (Veena Jamkar), who has is head-over-heels for a shopkeeper Jignesh.

Also woven in the story are union heads Rane (Sachin Khedekar), his partner played by Vinay Apte, Speedbreaker (Siddharth Jadhav) and a list other characters including the ones of Satish Kaushik and Kashmera Shah.

Manjrekar has succeeded in portraying the helplessness, tragedy and the everyday life of the workers in a manner which cannot be more realistic. Every minute detail is taken care of brilliantly. In addition, he manages to bring out some realistic and brilliant performances from each and every actor with Biswas, Jadhav, Khedekar, Chaudhary and Patel standing out.

Having said that, the negative points are too much to ignore. Although the film promises to deal with the battle of mill workers versus mill owners, the first half is loaded with too many daily events and encounters of the main characters leaving the main issue behind. The second half does touch the issues but the script suffers for being too lengthy and too emotional. Even after the culmination of the story, the film is still dragged unnecessarily. Most of the times, the film appears to be an underworld saga with shades of Manjrekar’s Vaastav appearing regularly.

However, the major drawback, as stated earlier, is the nature of presentation. The 2 hour 20 odd minutes are loaded with too much of violence. In fact, such high dose of bloodshed and hostility is hardly ever witnessed in any Indian movie. The sub-stories of the characters get a bit too emotional, wild and loud. After witnessing such disturbance, one hardly cares for the characters and the issues.

Despite many plus points, Lalbaug Parel falters for being too brutal, loud and distressing for an average viewer. Watch it only if you are ready to excuse these factors. Because of the sensitive local issue, the film is sure to enjoy very good returns. However, its Hindi version, City Of Gold, (slated to release on April 23) won’t stand a chance at the box-office.


Prince Movie Review

Just Prince… Not King

Ratings - * * *

Debutant director Kookie Gulati’s carries out the much needed task of bringing a Hollywood style hi-fi action thriller to India with Prince. The jaw-dropping stunts, sleek approach, mind-blowing cinematography and some explosive action make way for a ride never experienced before in Bollywood. Sadly, like it happens with most of the stylish action flicks in Bollywood, the storytelling and logic take a backseat. Plus, there is this concept of brain-mapping and memory erasing and restoring which looks just too fantasy oriented.

Prince (Vivek Oberoi) is the smartest thief in the world who can steal just anything because of his intelligence and determination. He commits the heftiest theft ever when he steals many kilos of expensive diamonds. Then one day, he wakes up without remembering anything about himself or his past. He realizes that the IGRIP force and a dreaded while collar gangster called Sarang (Isaiah) are after him as he has stolen a valuable coin. A coin which has a dangerous secret hidden in it. Prince then gets to know he has a girlfriend named Maya. But he meets three girls (Neeru Singh, Nandana Sen and Aruna Shields) one after the other who claim to be Maya. Prince must soon unlock all the mysteries because he has just six days left to live.

Kookie Gulati manages to provide some extraordinary scenes. The tone sets off right from the start with the robbery sequence. The story moves very well in the first half as Prince’s confusion, the unusual events he encounters and the regular twists make for an interesting watch. The hardcore stunt scenes and the track Oh Mere Khuda are the highlights in this time. However, it’s always a huge challenge for a writer in such action thrillers to pen an interesting and convincing second half and that’s where the film falters  more so because of the run-of-the-mill climax.

Sadly, there are other problems too. It’s important to show high-tech weapons in such movies but you just can’t take the word technology for granted. There’s just too much of cinematic liberty taken in the form of some non-believable gadgets. For instance, the Spiderman trick that Prince uses is just too much. As stated earlier, the brain-mapping issue makes matters worse. There is also this old shoddy thing of not a single bullet hitting the protagonist even though hundreds of rounds are fired on him.

Music director Sachin Gupta is a big saving grace as displays his talent superbly in the songs Oh Mere Khuda, Tere Liye and Kaun Hoon Main. His music is mostly responsible for the publicity the film has gained.

Vivek Oberoi’s performance is the biggest strongpoint of the movie. He carries the aura of the character with ease as does well not only in the action sequences but also displays his vulnerability and confusion with flawlessness. This one is easily amongst his top performances.

Aruna Shields, surprisingly, turns out to be the better of the three ladies. Nandana Sen does well too while Neeru Singh doesn’t get much scope. Debutant Isaiah makes a strong point in the role of a baddie. He deserves more opportunities in the future. Sanjay Kapoor once again proves that he deserves a much higher status in Bollywood. Dalip Tahil and the rest of the supporting cast are fine.

Prince turns out to be a one-time-watch for those who prefer action thrillers. However, we should appreciate the fact that finally someone has dared to tread on this path which can, hopefully, motivate other filmmakers to revive the action genre in Bollywood. Therefore I give 3 to this one. It will have a mammoth task at the box-office. Should do well in the single screens.